Collaborative and Co-operative learning

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Collaborative and Co-operative Learning


Learning is a complex process. The fact is amply demonstrated by the unending researches that are going on to unravel the mystery of the process the world over. New techniques have been tried out and successful ones have been added to the repertoire of the teaching learning process available. Collaborative and cooperative learning is one such arena which is being tried out to make the learning more meaningful. The technique is more relevant for teaching Physics for several reasons. Physics is conceptual in nature. The discipline demands the grasp of concepts often with the help of concepts learnt earlier. It can be compared to a non-linear, non-vertical but a helical model. Concepts have to be learnt, they have to get reinforced and further they help in understanding a new chunk of knowledge. A thorough grounding in mathematics is an absolute pre requisite. This necessitates employing interventions and devise strategies which help best in learning Physics. Collaborative and cooperative learning is an attempt which is a departure from the teacher centric method to pupil centric. It exploits the active involvement of the learners in the learning process. Teacher acts as a facilitator. He remains in the background after setting up the learning task. He assists and guides but never takes the Centre stage. He uses a constructive approach wherein the learners construct knowledge from their previous experiences. This is a paradigm shift in learning Physics. Not all topics in physics are ideally suited but some are eminently suitable. The role of teacher assumes a great significance for she has to do quite an amount of spadework before embarking upon this attempt. She has to meticulously plan the work; else it will be directionless instead of a goal directed activity.

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  1. To sensitize the teachers to the concept The teachers need to be familiarized with the new venture as most of them would be feeling secure in their traditional method of teaching of lecture mode. They have to get hands on experience in re looking at the topics in order to devise a lesson plan of collaborative teaching
  2. To Shift learning from rote memory to conceptual learning. Pure sciences have become unpopular choice for students who go for higher studies. Instead they are enamored of technical and medical education. Market driven reasons apart, the distressing reason for such a sad spectacle is the physics teachers themselves. Rote memory is stressed instead of conceptual learning. Teachers fail to develop a positive attitude towards the subject. We need to develop a passion towards the subject instead of distaste.
  3. To make Learning to be an enjoyable experience. The Chinese adage, ‘I hear I forget, I see I remember, I do I understand’, describes the need for our learners to actively engage themselves in the learning task. Instead of being passive listeners, they should be able to perform tasks themselves. If they discover ohm’s law by carrying out the experiment themselves, plot the results on a graph and arrive at conclusions, the learning would be a lasting experience.
  4. To bring in variety of learning experience. Participatory and collaborative learning as stated earlier can be used as an alternate teaching technique which the students enjoy. It is a welcome departure from the traditional methods where the learner is responsible and active. He has to contribute in the process of learning task.

Collaborative and Cooperative learning: A new approach

The stages involved in planning activities for collaborative and cooperative learning can be viewed as follows:

  1. Dividing the learners into mixed ability groups. Learners have to be grouped consisting of mixed abilities. This is crucial as it helps in developing cooperative skills. The teacher has to ensure that all the members have a specified role to perform. Care is to be taken to see that the bright ones do not dominate the slower ones.
  2. Formulating the expected learning outcome in clear defined terms. A goal has to be set to be achieved at the end of the activity. It has to be stated in clear unambiguous terms. A goal directed activity has a focus and hence its importance. A goal statement would be ‘to study the relationship between the lengths of the pendulum, material of the bob on the period of the pendulum’.
  3. Dividing the learning stages in a sequence from those already learnt to the targeted outcome. When a goal is set, its achievement is based on the previous knowledge of the learners. These have to be intelligently used to develop a new concept. When the lens formula is being derived, the learners need to know the concepts of focal length, distances measured of the image and the object, sign convention etc.
  4. Meticulous planning learning activities for each stage. While framing tasks, cognitive terminology is used such as ‘classify’, ‘analyse’, ‘predict’ etc. The road map to reach the destination has to be carefully charted; else there is a fear of losing the way. The sequences of activities that lead to the final outcome have to be carefully designed beforehand. For example to arrive at the resultant resistance when several resistors are connected in parallel, the sequence would be something like: selecting resistors of known value>completion of circuit>taking the readings>tabulating the results>formation of a hypothesis
  5. Assisting the learners to construct knowledge at the end of each activity The teachers’ role is to assist the learners to come to a conclusion based on the findings. After plotting a velocity time graph, the learners have to be helped to arrive at the relation between the rates of change of velocity with respect to time.
  6. Helping learners to express their learning. The important part of participatory learning is to allow the learners to speak about their construction of knowledge. It not only reinforces the learning but also help them improve their soft skills of clarity and conciseness of communication. In this approach, pursuit of student questions and interests is valued.
  7. Carrying out assessment. Evaluation has to be carried out for the teacher as well as students. Every activity has to be assessed for its effectiveness. This helps in planning similar activities in a better way in future. Students can also be assessed at the end of each activity to test their learning. Process is as important as product.

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You may like to have more information on cooperative and collaborative learning. Following web pages would help you in this regard.



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See these video to know more [[3]] [[4]]

There are certain differences between the collaborative learning classroom and the traditional classroom

Some differences between a traditional and a collaborative classroom:
Traditional classroom Collaborative classroom
Only one person speaks at a time. Usually the teacher is the one who speaks most of the time Students work in groups of two to four and each can participate in the task assigned
Teacher passes information through a lecture mode Teacher is a facilitator and consultant. Students work on assigned tasks.
Teacher is active and students could be passive recipients Students are active and involved in planning and monitoring through team work
Teacher is accountable and evaluates students through tests Students do self-evaluation both individual and joint activities
Teacher’s authority pervades the classroom Cooperative skills of students is pervasive

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